All right–he thought, turning away from the window–he would concede that attacks of loneliness had begun to strike him at times; but it was a loneliness to which he was entitled, it was a hunger for the response of some living, thinking mind. He was so tired of all those people, he thought in contemptuous bitterness; he dealt with cosmic rays, while they were unable to deal with an electric storm.

. . .

You see, Dr. Stadler, people don’t want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they’ll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue–a highly intellectual virtue–out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt.

. . .

Miss Taggart, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It is the resentment of another man’s achievement. These touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone’s work prove greater than their own–they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal–for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth at you from out of their rat holes, thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them–while you’d give a yea of your life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don’t know that that dream is the infallible proof of mediocrity, because that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear. They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors–hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom–the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don’t respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?”

. . .

“Do you still need proof that I’m always waiting for you?” she asked, leaning obediently back in her chair; her voice was neither tender nor pleading, but bright and mocking.

“Dagny, why is it that most women would never admit that, but you do?”

“Because they’re never sure that they ought to be wanted. I am.”

“I do admire self-confidence.”

“Self-confidence was only one part of what I said, Hank.”

“What’s the whole?”

“Confidence of my  value–and yours.”

“Are you saying,” he asked slowly, “that I rose in your estimation when you found that I wanted you?”

“Of course.”

“That’s not the reaction of most people of being wanted.”

“It isn’t.”

“Most people feel that they rise in their own eyes, if others want them.”

“I feel that others live up to me, if they want me. And that is the way you feel too, Hank, about yourself–whether you admit it or not.”